What the Heck Happened to ___?

Currently, we are just over a month into the NBA season.  The analysts at the Wages of Wins have been focusing on how uncharacteristically (or characteristically) well some players, such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Martin, and O.J. Mayo, are playing.  However, I have decided to look at the other end of the spectrum at the players who are playing uncharacteristically poorly, and maybe a couple of ultra-surprising players I haven’t seen mentioned as often.  I will only mention players who have played both 10 games and 150 minutes.  Here goes nothing:

  • SF C.J. Miles, Cleveland- (2011-12: 1,145 minutes, -.039 WP48.  2012-13: 176 minutes, -.308 WP48)  I know that C.J. Miles has never been a particularly good NBA player (for the reasoning behind the italics, read my article “Good Can Be Bad: Production vs. Skill in the NBA” from back in early September), but he has never been anywhere near this bad.  By never been particularly good, I mean one near-average season (2007-08), one average season in a very limited sample size (2005-06), and only one of his other six seasons were in the positive range (2008-09).  His employment is a great example of the John Bryant Error (Thank you, www.thenbageek.com) just by employing this guy.  However, nothing he has done has led us to believe that Miles could be this mind-bogglingly terrible, even in a small sample size like this to start a season, the additional caveat being that season metrics are more recognizable.  I would be unsurprised to learn that he’s had stretches this bad in the past, but that Wins Produced rate just makes you do a spit take.  The reason for the drop has largely been caused by a precipitous drop in shooting efficiency, which is caused by a greatly increased three-point attempt rate at an abysmally horrible 26.8%.  While Miles was only even an average shooter from range for a small forward once in his career (2007-08), he is generally not this bad; his career success rate is 32.4%.  This, coupled with a 86.4% increase in turnovers, contributes to the absolutely atrocious Wins Produced.  If the Cavs are…ill-advised enough to continue to play him, I assume that he will be more productive, but I would just cut him if I could.
  • C Greg Stiemsma, Minnesota- (2011-12: 766 minutes, .181 WP48.  2012-13: 163 minutes, -.168 WP48)  In his rookie season, Stiemsma played really well as a back-up big in Boston.  Thus far, he has been playing at a remarkably subpar level.  This year, his shooting percentage has dropped from 54.5% to an abysmal 35.4%, his rebounds have decreased 26.1%, his turnovers are 52.4% higher, his amazing blocked shot rate is 77.4% of the astonishing 5.3 per 48 it was last year, and his steals rate is only 39.1% of what it was last year.  Coupled with the disastrous drop in shooting efficiency is a 85.5% increase in field goal attempts per 48 minutes.  In other words, Stiemsma is worse at everything except committing fouls-his free throw percentage also went down 6.4% despite (or because of) a 57.7% uptick in attempts.  I want to chalk this up to small sample size, but I could just as easily say that last year’s 766 minutes wasn’t a terribly large sample size either.  I want to think this Stiemsma guy is good-I don’t know why, maybe I just like the name-but he probably isn’t significantly better than average, if that.  Darn.
  • SF Michael Beasley, Phoenix- (2011-12: 1,087 minutes, -.014 WP48.  2012-13: 478 minutes, -.120 WP48.)  We knew that Beasley was bad; he has been the past three years ever since he decided to forsake rebounds and chuck.  This year, he has been especially bad.  His three-point percentage is 27.3%, his overall field goal percentage is 38.9%, his total points per shot is 90% of what his already-terrible rate of last year (1.09 to 0.98; the average small forward is 1.22).  In his Miami years, Beasley has a bang-up legit prospects, producing .063 and .080 Wins Per 48 as a power forward.  For his first two years, that’s a legitimate sign of hope, and it was hope that was foreseen by the great Arturo Galletti’s model.  Then, he got traded to Minnesota for two second-rounders, and something snapped.  He stopped rebounding, he started turning the ball over, and his shots first increased, then regressed, but with less efficiency as well.  What might have been.
  • PF Kevin Seraphin, Washington- (2011-12: 1,176 minutes, .114 WP48.  2012-13: 319 minutes, -.103 WP48.)  Like other guys in this article, his shooting efficiency has gone down, his turnovers and shot attempts have gone up.  This is because, according to www.basketball-reference.com’s shot chart, he’s moved farther away from the basket; he’s taken more 16-23 foot jumpers already than he did all of last season.  He’s also taken more 10-15 footers.  Mr. Seraphin, get you feet back on the low block; you’re killing your team.
  • PF Jan Vesely, Washington- (2011-12: 1,078 minutes, .145 WP48.  2012-13: 172 minutes, -.055 WP48.)   Since he’s been in the NBA, this Czech has been a low-usage shooter.  Keep that in mind.  Last year, he took 66.8% of his shots at the rim at a 73.1% rate (again, according to www.basketball-reference.com).  This year, he’s taken 30 shots, only 12 of which have been at the rim, and 7 have been from 16-23 feet.  He took 21 shots from the latter range all of last season.  As such, his shooting percentage went from 53.9% to 43.3%.  He’s also rebounding at 75.7% of the rate that he did last year, and small sample size is the probably cause of a 37.7% spike in his foul rate (6.9-9.5 per 48 minutes).  However, the drop is less dramatic as I have above, as the NBA Geek has him evaluated as a generic forward; as a power forward, he produced .110 per 48.  Still, ouch.
  • PF Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee- (2011-12: 1,655 minutes, .251 WP48.  2012-13: 323 minutes, -.047 WP48.)  His shooting efficiency and rebounding rates have absolutely plummeted, and everything else has actually improved.  (The declines are 50.5% per shot and 51.5%, respectively.)  He’s been shooting 22.6% from three, compared to 45.5% last year.  For his career, Ilyasova is a 34.7% 3-point shooter; last year is starting to look like a fluke.  On the other hand, he’s also just in a major slump, I guess he’s a solid amount above average, but nowhere near where he was last year.  His “amazing” contract is starting to look like less of a steal now.  Ah well; if he can rebound (pun not  initially intended but enjoyed), it will have been a good move.
  • PF LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland- (2011-12: 1,994 minutesm ,125 WP48.  2012-13: 611 minutes, -.038 WP48.)  Somehow, his statistics do not seem to have changed that much.  His Points Per Shot are down 14.5%, and his rebounds are down 11.6%.  I’m guessing that the Adj48 standard for power forwards has gone up a little bit this year.  (For information on the calculation of Wins Produced, visit www.wagesofwins.com.)

Has anyone else noticed that none of the players I’ve written about so far are guards?  Don’t worry; guards tend to be more clustered around the mean than other players; I’m sure that there will be some down the road, but no guarantees; I’m making this up as I go along.

  • PG Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento- (2011-12: 1,655 minutes, .140 WP48.  2012-13: 262 minutes, -.037 WP48.)  I mentioned that I make this up as I go along, and guess what, after the interlude, my first player is a point.  Thomas’s assist and turnover rates have both gone down the toilet (down 67.4% and up 63.3%, respectively), as have his rebounds (down 58%).  His fouls have also gone up slightly (20%) and his Points Per Shot have gone down slightly (4.8%).  Since 1,655 minutes is hardly a small sample size and basketball stats are amazingly consistent (again, www.wagesofwins.com), I’m guessing that this a combination of a slump and a quick trigger finger on the part of the coach.  I would be shocked if he doesn’t bounce back.
  • PF Jonas Jerebko, Detroit- (2011-12: 1,468 minutes, .149 WP48.  2012-13: 221 minutes, -.035 WP48.)  First off, he was evaluated as a small forward last year and a power forward this year; change him back to a 3, and he produces positive .035 Wins Per 48.  He takes the majority of his shots from the rim and beyond the arc, and his 25 threes have only led to five scores.  That, and a mysterious 21.7% drop in rebounding contribute to his swoon.  However, his offensive rebounds have actually increased 38.7%; mysteriously, his defensive rebounds have gone down a whopping 76.9%!  If anyone can explain this to me, I would really appreciate this because this looks like massively bad luck.  Or Andre Drummond.
  • C Ian Mahinmi, Indiana- (2011-12: 1,139 minutes, .102 WP48.  2012-13: 251 minutes, -.016 WP48.)  His stellar points per shot rate has gone down from 1.77 to 1.49 to 1.31 over the past three years, and his turnover rate has almost doubled from last year.  Interestingly, his block rate has increased 2.62 times; I’m saying that’s small sample size.  He’s taking more mid-range jumpers; it’s not hurting his rebounding, but it is hurting his scoring efficiency.  Get back on the block, sir.
  • PF Josh Smith, Atlanta- (2011-12: 2,329 minutes, .116 WP48.  2012-13: 454 minutes, -.011 WP48.)  We all know that Josh Smith is a small forward in a power forward’s clothing.  Evaluate him as a 3, and he is significantly above average in every year of his career instead of hovering around that mark (till now), and he is a legit star in 2009-10.  Smith’s turnovers are up 26.5%, his scoring efficiency is down 10.8%, and his rebounds are down 23.8%.  He’s just in a slump, I think.  Besides, he has taken more 16-23 foot jumpers than shots at the rim; since he’s playing as a big, that needs to stop, and it might happen (2009-10 and 2010-11) or not (last year).  I don’t know.
  • C Gustavo Ayon, Orlando- (2011-12: 1,088 minutes, .171 WP48.  2012-13: 171 minutes, -.010 WP48.)  His defensive stats, aside from rebounding, have completely and utterly tanked; I’m tired of listing off percentages, but let’s just say that there are 50%+ changes for the worse in blocks, steals, and fouls.  He’s also taking fewer shots at the rim, which have corresponded to a 10.9% drop in Points Per Shot.  Don’t ask me why that has occurred; he’s playing with Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic, who are fond but not overly fond of jump shots.  Small sample size is all I gotta say.
  • SG Arron Afflalo, Orlando- (2011-12: 2,086 minutes, .109 WP48.  2012-13: 512 minutes, .018 WP48.)  Another Magic man to close out this segment.  45% increase in turnovers, 25% drop in shooting efficiency.  The rate of 16-23 foot jumpers he has taken has increased almost 50% from his rate last year.  He’s good at mid-range jumpers, but he’s not Dirk good, and he’s perfectly good at taking threes.  His shot attempts have increased 18.6%, but, as the Wages of Wins people love to say, THE USAGE CURVE DOESN’T EXIST!

As for people who have not been pointed out at the Wages of Wins but are playing amazingly by their standards, I would like to nominate Jimmy Butler (who was good in a small sample size last year), Mo Harkless (who the NBA Geek has mentioned), that Ray Allen’s playing amazingly well even by his standards, that Omri Casspi, Antwan Jamison, Jason Richardson, and Carl Landry are all playing uncharacteristically well, Eric Bledsoe’s breaking out (but not with zits), and Hasheem Thabeet may have finally gotten on track in Oklahoma City.  Thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.

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2 thoughts on “What the Heck Happened to ___?

    • Washington’s had a lot of problems this year. Wall hasn’t actually played yet, I mentioned Vesely and Seraphin’s down year, Bradley Beal hasn’t been as good as we thought, and Jordan Crawford-who is a major chucker and a subzero player in every season in his career-has been getting 25 minutes a game. Only Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor (the epitome of averageness-see wagesofwins.com), and Trevor Ariza have played in 100+ minutes at an above-average rate, although Nene will soon join them. They’ve also lost quite a few close games; according to Wins Produced, they should be roughly 4-10 right now rather than 1-13. They’re problem is not in their leadership as Okafor, Nene, Webster, Ariza, and the forgettable Shaun Livingston are all veterans, but it is a combination of down years, Nene and Wall’s injuries, and bad luck. By the way, thank you very much for reading and commenting. How do you like the blog?

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